Q: We’re considering building a cellar off our kitchen for storing and displaying our wine collection but have no idea what our options are. Can you help us out?
A: Over the past few decades wine cellars have evolved. No longer just glorified wine racks in your basement, modern wine rooms are central features in the home and showpieces of personal style. These days, how you display the wine is as important as proper temperature control.
Before you jump headfirst into the world of wine rooms, you’ll need to get a handle on your range of options. Here’s a short primer to get you started.
Loving fine old wine doesn’t mean that your wine room has to look old. There are many contemporary, custom options available for both casual wine lovers and diehard collectors. Custom designs can complement any style of décor and can be expanded as the collection grows. Here are a few design elements to consider.
- Label-Forward Racking: Wineries put a lot of effort into wine bottle labeling, so it can be fun to feature them. Plus, it makes the bottles easy to find.
- Design Finishes: There are countless metal finishes, wood species, and stain options. Timeless finishes, like matte black and chrome, are very popular. Elevated finishes like gold and bronze are also available.
- Traditional: These wine rooms—built with humidity-resistant woods—will transport you back in time with their cozy and welcoming atmosphere. Racking features like lattice and diamond bins, wood case storage, and cork-forward storage can pack in large quantities of bottles. Cork flooring, oak barrel stays, and large-format bottles all shine in traditional cellars.
- Transitional & Rustic: This trend mixes metal, wood, and glass, often merging Old World style with modern metal racking. Mixing natural elements like stone and metals with repurposed-wine-barrel flooring and countertops is common. Reclaimed wood can create a magnificent look.
- Contemporary: Functional and fun, modern wine rooms break from traditional wood. Featured in the main areas of the home, they often show off the wine as much as store it. Darkened wood, aluminum, or acrylic pegs and suspended cable racking that creates a dramatic floating appearance are popular options.
Just as important as design is picking the best location. Wine rooms can now be placed anywhere you like. Kitchens and dining rooms are especially popular as they allow you to engage the wine while cooking. Just be careful to place the racking in a location that minimizes potentially damaging light exposure. Another popular location is under the stairs—just pop out the wall, replace it with the right type of glass with brackets, and add cooling for a spectacular showpiece.
Other storage options for public display include glass doors and wine walls—a great way to show off your wine collection while keeping your fine wines cool—and room divider wine cellars. Dividing a room with two glass walls is a simple way to add a transparent, passive barrier that is as stunning as it is functional. Your wine will be a jewel box surrounded by glass. Remember to include a drawer and cabinet so corkscrews and wine glasses are in easy reach.
If you have space next to your wine room, you can also include an adjacent tasting lounge with comfy seating, creating the perfect space to crack open your finest bottles.
Today, technology is fundamental to proper wine storage, and continues to evolve. Your cooling system can now be linked directly to an app on your phone, effectively creating a smart wine cellar with remote temperature control. Other features include automatic lights and thumb print readers for locking the cellar. LED lighting is a great, sustainable way to create a mood and give favorite bottles the spotlight in your collection. Be creative.
Whatever you decide, it’s important that the room is built correctly to protect your wine over the long haul. To do it right, you need to plan for insulation, cooling, and wall materials at the beginning of the process—don’t make the rookie mistake of waiting until after you install the racking.
Working with a talented wine cellar professional is a great way to get it right the first time. They’ll know what racking options will best showcase your collection, and will be happy to discuss room preparation, wine cooling, storage needs, and even which bottles to feature.
Now that you’re ready to begin, have fun creating the cellar design of your dreams!
Doug Smith is the president and chief designer of Rhino Wine Cellars & Cooling Systems, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’ more than 2,600 members, write to email@example.com.
Photos courtesy Rhino Wine Cellars & Cooling Systems.